Owner of Brit's Pub says downtown Minneapolis no longer safe for customers


The morning after more civil unrest struck Downtown Minneapolis, businesses are assessing the damage to their property and starting to pick up the pieces.  

One of those trying to figure out what comes next is Kam Talebi, owner and CEO of Kaskaid Hospitality, the parent company that owns Brit's Pub on Nicollet Mall, along with several other restaurants incuding Crave, Union and BLVD.  

Talebi spoke to News Talk 830 WCCO's Mark Freie outside of Brit's Thursday morning where looters broke into the building, eventually starting a fire inside the complex.  Talebi tells WCCO the pub is devastated. 

"It's pretty extensive, unfortunately," says Talebi. "And you know, they got into the building, lit it on fire. Thank God it didn't spread throughout the entire complex, but, it's just completely ransacked. The entire building.  Got upstairs, downstairs, office, computers, TV's, liquor. I think they might've just pulled up here with their cars and unloaded the business. So it's just, it's disheartening, sad. This is such an institution to look at the building and this state of disarray is just surreal."

Talebi heard about the damage happening Wednesday night, but says law enforcement didn't respond soon enough to protect their property.  They were able to evacuate their staff in order to keep them safe.  

"We heard that the building up broken into, and then we called 911 and reported it," says Talebi. "And they said, well, we'll get to it as soon as we can. A couple hours later, about 11:30, is when the building caught on fire.  Call the police, called fire. We'll get to it. I mean, there's not much we can do, unfortunately.  Thank God we got the staff out quickly. It was not safe to be able to come inside the city as a whole. I think that the police were really focused more on, you know, 9th through 7th (streets) where Target is, and left this area sort of unattended."

Following the George Floyd protests and riots, and the issues that have continued to plague Minneapolis, Talibi says the safety of customers is a major concern. 

"We live in certainly interesting times right now and, you know, I hope that the leadership of the city government at the end of the day understands and hopefully addresses, number one the safety of the residents here in Minneapolis. It's unfortunate, businesses are truly impacted. We've got 80 employees right now that are out of a job. Until there's a plan to be able to secure the city, and rebuild it's image, we hear from customers that they don't feel safe coming downtown."

All of this is on top of the coronavirus pandemic that has already been a hardship to restaurants not just in Minneapolis, but across the country.  

"So business has been, you know, sort of crashing levels to begin with," Talebi says. "This area wasn't hit as hard during the previous riots but it certainly took aim at this time. So look, we're fighters and as a community, hopefully as the governing bodies of the city, we continue to learn from this and address the issues at hand. I hope within that there's a priority of safety for residents and the businesses. It's just tough to be able to operate right now in downtown Minneapolis.